With regards to wine, the terms Old World & New World are fairly commonly used; however it’s fair to say that they are also often misunderstood.
The most-simple definition is the Geographic one, whereby Old World refers to the classic wine-growing countries of Europe and New World refers to everywhere else.
This is all well and good but with such large areas covered, this definition can offer very little in the way of an indication of wine style.
Perhaps these term offer a distinction between vineyard areas established many centuries ago and those planted much more recently, this seems very reasonable but breaks down when you consider that South Africa (New World) had more than 100 years of winemaking heritage under its belt before the most famous vineyards of Bordeaux (Old World) were even planted
It turns out that the main trait all Old World wine countries have in common is that their wine making is heavily restricted, with guidelines all wineries must follow.
These standards cover everything from soil type and grape variety in the vineyard to use of oak and ageing in the winery.
Winemakers in the New World however, are free to plant whichever grape variety the feel like (and perhaps more importantly, whichever grape variety is the most fashionable), they are also free to adopt any winemaking technique in the vineyard or winery which they feel will help them to make a better wine.
I have chosen below just a few wines which I think demonstrate the differences between these two Worlds, but which, when tasted, should also show the lines between the two are more blurred now than ever. With many New World produces choosing to adopt Old World style winemaking techniques and standards even though not compelled to do so and Many Old World producers are open to new ideas and becoming more adventurous in their winemaking.
To start I have chosen a French wine, Robert Cantin Sauvignon Blanc, which is fermented in stainless steel (a technique with new world origins) Winemaker Robert manages to pack this wine with fantastic aromatics which leap out of the glass.
Next up, from New Zealand we have Urlar Sauvignon Blanc. A portion of this wine was fermented in old oak barrels (a very traditional old world practice) this provides a wine full of varietal fruit expression balanced with texture and weight.
Back to France again for ‘H’ de l'Hospitalet Malbec, Malbec has been grown in this area, in the foothills of the Pyrenees for Centuries. However in the hands of multi-award winning winemaker, Gérard Bertrand, this grape delivers a smooth and supple red which shares more similarities with modern new world examples than it does with the traditionally rustic wines of the region.
To finish I have chosen another Malbec, this time from Chile, Chicken Run Malbec, made with organically-grown grapes, 20% of the wine was aged for 6 months in French oak barrels (old world influence again) to add a toasty oak accent.